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Suspect Suddenly Braked, Caused Deadly Trooper Crash, Investigators Say

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May 04, 2004

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Suspect Suddenly Braked, Caused Deadly Trooper Crash, Investigators Say

Officer Down: George "Andy" Brown III - [Gainesville, Florida]

The Associated Press

Gainesville, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida Highway Patrol trooper who died in a car accident last month lost control of his vehicle during a high-speed chase after the suspect he was following suddenly braked, according to a preliminary crash report.

Sgt. George "Andy" Brown III, 54, tried to avoid hitting the Plymouth Neon in front of him, but lost control of his cruiser and hit an oak tree, according to the report released Tuesday by the highway patrol.

Based on skid marks and witness statements, officers believe the driver of the Neon braked with the intent of causing Brown to lose control, the report said.

Gregory Hampton Platt, 31, and Kelly Jean Smith, 25, were arrested in Citrus County charged with fleeing police there several hours after Brown's death.

Troopers believe they were in the vehicle that Brown was trying to stop, but they have not been charged in connection with his death.

Brown and the Neon were both traveling about 80 mph before the crash, investigators said. The speed limit was 45 mph.

Brown was the first FHP trooper to die in the line of duty since 1998, and the 38th trooper to die in Florida since the FHP started keeping records in 1941. Seventeen of those were shot, 15 died in auto crashes, five died in plane crashes and one died in an explosion.

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